Keeping up with the pace of business today and ensuring employees are properly-equipped with the tools and technologies they need to be productive means embracing mobile approaches to business. These days, a majority of employees have their own mobile devices, and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies are in place at most corporations.
Anytime, anywhere access via mobile devices has proven to enhance productivity in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, as it has in many others, by allowing access to important information as well as by enabling business processes and compliance activities to move forward while personnel are out of the office.
The Security Risks of Unauthorized File-Sharing
With so many employees currently or projected to be using their own mobile devices at work, pharmaceutical firms must embrace this workplace paradigm shift. But, given the need to comply with industry and government regulations, increased use of mobile devices also opens the door to security and compliance risks. Having a strategy for enabling mobile work—rather than taking an ad-hoc, reactive approach—can reinforce a compliance strategy, which is especially vital for organizations in highly regulated industries.
Managing the employee-owned devices is a challenge in its own right to the IT department. In addition to the additional complexity in the asset management, BYOD also often fosters the bring-your-own-application (BYOA) behavior in enterprises.
To ensure the security and integrity of sensitive data and processes, organizations need to implement stringent security controls and user policies across their networks and systems. Otherwise, employees may use their own unauthorized and unsanctioned solutions for storing and sharing confidential and business critical information.
The challenge for pharmaceutical firms and other life sciences companies is ensuring employees use authorized apps for information sharing and collaboration, ones that allow granular control of who can access and share confidential information and ensure that data is encrypted in transit and at rest. Another common problem with these popular file sync and share solutions is that the file is copied to another repository, which breaks the audit trail and makes version management more difficult because two copies of a file exists in different locations, and these repositories don’t talk to each other.
Ensuring Your Compliance Practices Are Mobile-Friendly
Progressive pharmaceutical companies are implementing strategies and solutions to protect against the risks of unauthorized employee use of personal mobile devices and apps, and many are delivering secure access to content for employees on the go via an enterprise information management (EIM) system that offers mobile apps as part of its solution stack.
EIM solutions enable pharmaceutical firms to better control, secure, and process their vast amounts of information. These systems allow users to manage, find, and track documents across the organization, and they provide companies with granular security controls that ensure corporate information is accessed only by those who are authorized to do so.
In addition to comprehensive security controls, leading EIM solutions offer a wide range of capabilities that ease the burden of compliance work, such as an efficiently indexed and searchable repository of both structured data (information residing in database applications such as ERP and CRM systems) and unstructured content (documents, images, videos, emails), along with comprehensive audit trails that log all activities and processes. These and other features greatly reduce the risk of non-compliance due to manual-entry errors and lost information, while also streamlining audit and regulatory management processes. In many cases, EIM systems have already become critical components of enterprise compliance strategies.
Leading EIM solutions offer well-integrated mobile functionality that extends EIM security and capability to anytime, anywhere use, allowing employees to work with corporate data on tablets and smartphones. Employees get an easy-to-use application for accessing, sharing, and synchronizing files, and corporations get the security and protection they require to safeguard sensitive data.
The most innovative EIM systems even allow for mobile participation in automated compliance-related workflows, which can save time and boost productivity while also making sure processes comply with regulations. Most business processes that require collection of physical signatures are delayed an average of three days—or as long as a week—according to research from the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM). EIM solutions with mobile capabilities can significantly reduce the time required for document signings or process approvals and authorizations—thanks to electronic signatures that fulfill security and compliance requirements, cameras for capturing evidence of completed tasks and GPS capabilities for location-based information. This combination of functionality delivers oversight and proof of regulatory compliance, helping to ensure a comprehensive corporate compliance strategy.
One potential use case that demonstrates the value of a complete strategy for security and compliance while also providing mobile capabilities is managing standard operating procedures (SOPs). Every action involved in creating, reviewing and modifying an SOP is recorded and tracked in the EIM system, including a record of which employees accessed the document and their electronic signatures to indicate understanding of the material. All of this is tracked, regardless of the device the employee uses or their location. Given the ubiquity of smart device use, for many organizations the ability to leverage mobile devices and applications has become critical for SOP management.
Compliance and Mobility Are Both Possible
Mobile-friendly EIM solutions allow workers the freedom to access the information they require to do their jobs from anywhere, at any time, and they also deliver workflow capabilities and access controls that support regulatory compliance activities. No matter what new options for individual connectivity and mobility appear and regardless of how employees choose to share information, an EIM system with mobile capabilities means you won’t have to choose between compliance and efficiency—or between security and staff satisfaction.
About the Author
Mika Javanainen is Senior Director of Product Management at M-Files Corporation. Javanainen is in charge of managing and developing M-Files product portfolio, roadmaps, and pricing globally. Prior to his executive roles, Javanainen worked as a systems specialist, where he integrated document management systems with ERP and CRM applications. A published author, Javanainen has an executive MBA in International Business and Marketing.